Zürich, Swiss football away days 5.

My next Swiss football trip brought me to the city of Zürich in the canton of Zürich…..

Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland with just over 400,000 people, is located in the centre of Switzerland on the northwestern shore of Lake Zürich. The city stretches on both sides of the River Limmat, which flows out from the Lake.

A German speaking city, Zürich was founded by the Romans in 15 BC. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago. The Romans founded the city as a tax collecting point for goods trafficked on the Limmat river. 

Zurich is a city that always rates very highly in “Quality of Life Surveys” carried out here and there by various agencies. With its wealth, general safety, cleanliness, and a wide selection of interesting sights and places to visit, top class universities, fiscally attractive with a lowish tax base: yes it is certainly a lovely city to visit, and even to settle down in. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysThe city also has a rich cultural tradition with many high-quality museums and art galleries, but for someone who is into more modern pursuits, the city holds one of the largest and most popular dance music festivals in the world, a techno “street parade” around August every year that attracts about a million ravers and the like dancing alongside the lake Zurich. 

Zürich is a major hub for railways, roads, and air traffic for Switzerland and for Europe. Both Zürich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country, and the city has an extensive local train, bus and city wide tram network. The network also includes boats on the lake and river, funicular railways and even a cable car between Adliswil and Felsenegg. Zürich train station is the world’s most frequently served railway station, with 2915 trains every day, and has high speed trains coming from France, Germany and Austria passing through, and it is also directly connected with Zürich Airport which is less than 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) away. 

I like Zürich, its a lovely city, looking very nice at night, people mulling about, a good atmosphere in the city air. The old town looks great, albeit a bit too posh and stylish for me but a nice city to walk around all the same.

Oh by the way, before I forget The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), otherwise known as the corrupt bastards running, our ruining, the beautiful game, have their headquarters in the city!

Pub watch 

Kennedy’s Irish Pub

Address: Freischuetzgasse 14, Zurich 8004

http://www.kennedys.ch/

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Zürich, Swiss football away daysA large Irish pub not too far off from the train station. Was my first stop of the day, and ventured in to the quiet bar with a small midday crowd. 

Have a good selection of Irish and English beers so went with my old favourite Smithwicks as I was curious to see how it travels. Friendly bar lady pulled a good pint that tasted perfectly fine. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysWas in this bar before, so it can get very busy and lively on a weekend night. It is a fun place to be for sure, but the prices of the beers are something to behold. Not going to be doing a large drinking session in a bar like this unless you are very flush with the cash! But this is Zurich one of the most expensive cities in Europe so its par for the course here. 

Its a good place to meet mates for a few pints and to watch a game on the box, as they cater for the football barstoolers. Can also get good food here as they serve meals all day long, apparently they do a Guinness pie which sounds very interesting! They also on occasion have good live Irish music on show. So it ticks all the boxes for a decent Irish boozer…….

Whilst the exterior could look a bit better, its a little dull, the interior of the bar is inviting and in a traditional Irish style, all wooden floors with many knick knacks dotted around the place. It is very big inside, has a nice relaxed ambiance, and was not a bad place to have the first pint of the day. 

Strauss bar (Hürlimann) 

Address: Langstrasse 132
8004 Zurich

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Zürich, Swiss football away daysThe Strauss bar is a small dive bar located on the crossing of the Langstrasse. Looked like an interesting place so I ventured in. 

Had a few customers for what was still early in the day, in a nicely lit bar where probably not too many outsiders frequent.

Zürich, Swiss football away daysI ordered a pint of Hürlimann. I actually thought the bar was called Hürlimann since they had it in big lettering over the front of the bar’s entrance, but no it is in fact a local lager. The first thing I noticed was the huge price differential compared to the Smithwicks I had just up at Kennedy’s Irish Pub. The beer I ordered was virtually half the price!

Was a nice quiet bar to sit down and relax in, the service was friendly, and the pint was fine. I liked this bar, a bit rough and ready, not pretentious and looked like a place where the locals hang out.  Especially when you compare to some of the hipstery wanker pubs I had passed in the old town of Zurich, jeez!! This place was good. Recommended. 

 

Oliver Twist Pub (Mr. Pickwick Pub)

Address: Rindermarkt 6
8001 Zürich

https://www.pickwick.ch/en/our-pub/zuerich/home/index.php

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Zürich, Swiss football away daysFinal pub before I got the train home. Decided to head to this bar as I was told it is infact the oldest bar in the city. Located in the Old Town with its nice cobbled streets. 

A little disappointed to see it was another Mr. Pickwick pub, a chain here in Switzerland, as I was hoping for something a little more authentic, but to be fair Pickwick pubs are decent bars. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysHas the usual look of the chain, wooden interior, nice and comfy setting, English beer on tap, British food on the menu, darts to play, the Premiership on the box, and an English style setting. 

There was a decent enough atmosphere in the bar. I was at the front bar which is a bit small, but they had more room out the back which seemed to be busy. 

I always get excited when I see Fullers on tap, so I ordered that. As I was at the bar I was a little worried at the way it was pulled, too fast and not with much care. So of course I got a pint with no head that tasted rotten. What a pity. The two bar workers who were there at the time both looked quite young as well, very young, they looked like they were on some job experience scheme. I do hope they learn how to pull a good pint in the future. Service fine and friendly but the beer was a downer. Sorry to say. 

 

FC Red Star Zürich 

Zürich, Swiss football away days

Arena/Stadium: Sportplatz Allmend Brunau

Location: Allmendstrasse 10, 8002 Zürich

Capacity: 2,000

Manager: Gargiulo, Giovanni

Founded: 1905

League: 1. Liga Classic 

Club home page 

info@redstar.ch

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Had the opportunity to do two games in Zurich, so when an opportunity presents itself like that you’d be a fool to pass it. Red Star sounded like a good team to see, and with kick off at 4, it gave me plenty of time to see Grasshoppers at 7 in the evening, a quick turnaround but nothing to worry as the transport in Switzerland is always reliable. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysPlaying in green, white and red, Red Star are a small club based in Zurich, playing in the 1. Liga Classic, the fourth tier of the Swiss football league system. Founded in 1905 by Charles Seiler and Alfred Merk. The idea for the name they found in a newspaper article of that time, which reported on the steamship line “Red Star Line”, and nothing to do with communist ideology or socialist principles, they were in fact originally attached to the local Catholic youth club, later becoming an independent club. 

Although independent, they still keep some of their old catholic ethos, in that there is a clear view on developing youth football in the club. Over 300 young people play in various teams of all ages, who participate in regional and national championships with their teams. With over 20 top rate coaches, the technical and athletic education of all players are well looked after and fairness, camaraderie and teamwork are promoted. This has resulted in many youth trophies for the team.

As for the first team, there best achievement was reaching the last 4 of Switzerland, getting to the cup semi’s in the Swiss Cup in the season 1998/1999, going out to Grasshoppers 7-0!

To the game

FC Red Star Zürich 0 – 0 Mendrisio 

04.11.2017  • Sportplatz Allmend Brunau, Zürich

Attendance: 510

Zürich, Swiss football away daysEven though the game was nil all, it was pretty entertaining. Both teams had chances to score, and the level of quality on show wasn’t too bad. 

Decent sized crowd at the game, with Mendrisio bringing a few noisy supporters up for the game. 

Had a burger and a beer, and fuck me the burger was fantastic, one of the best I have had in a long, long time. Excellent. 

Grasshopper Club Zürich

Zürich, Swiss football away days

Arena/Stadium: Letzigrund

Location: Badenerstrasse 500, 8048 Zurich

Capacity: 26,104

Manager: Murat Yakin

Founded: 1886

League: Swiss Super League

Club home page 

info@gcz.ch

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Grasshopper Club Zürich commonly referred to as simply GC, GCZ, or Grasshoppers is a football club based in Zürich.

It is the most successful club in Swiss football,  27 championship titles and 19 Swiss Cups. But they haven’t had much recent success as the last title was in the 2002–03 season, and the cup was last won in 2013. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysGrasshoppers were founded on the 1st of September 1886 by Tom E. Griffith, an English student, who set up a team made up mostly of a group of students who were originally from Manchester and were studying in Zurich at the time.

Where they got that crazy name “Grasshoppers” is not exactly known but some have said it was due to early players crazy celebrations and there lightning speed on the field of play. 

By 1905 they had won the Swiss championships four times, their first in the 1897–98 season in the very first Swiss Championship. After withdrawing from the league for a number of years owing to not having a ground, their next championship title took a while to come, in 1921. But with top Hungarian manager Izidor “Dori” Kürschner, Grasshoppers won the championship three times (in 1927,1928 and 1931) and also the the Swiss Cup in 1926, 1927, 1932 and 1934.  

More success came, when Austrian coach Karl Rappan took over the team. Under his tutelage more Swiss Championships came, in 1937, 1939, 1942, 1943 and 1945.  They also won the Swiss Cup in 1937,1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1946. This was the golden era for the team, with Rappen’s 12 titles and cups some achievement that probably will never be beaten by any manager in Switzerland, ever!

Zürich, Swiss football away daysIn the 1950’s they won two more league titles and two more cups, but the 1956 win in the Swiss Championship was to be their last silverware for quite a while, 15 years in fact, winning nothing in the ’60s. The long wait was over in 1971 when they beat FC Basel in the last game of the championship, in extra time, to clinch their 16th title.  The 17th came in 1978. 

The ’80s were good to the club. In the years 1982, 1983 and 1984, Grasshoppers won the championship three times in a row, and winning the cup in 1983, 1988, 1989 and 1990. Legendary German manager Ottmar Hitzfeld at the helm for those last two cup wins. A notable success in European competitions came in the 1980–81 season when in the UEFA Cup Grasshoppers reached the quarter-finals, but were eliminated narrowly by French side Sochaux.

As for other European competition success, they did memorably defeat the mighty Real Madrid 2-0 at home, and thus knocking them out of the European Cup in the 1978–79 season, and were eventually knocked out in the last eight by eventual winners Nottingham Forest . But their best European adventure was in the 1977–78 UEFA Cup where after overcoming four knockout rounds they reached the semi-final against French side Bastia. After a 3–2 win at home, they traveled to Corsica for the second leg but unluckily lost 0–1 and were thus eliminated on away goals. I doubt they will ever come so close to a European final again. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysThe 90’s were good times too, winning the league five times in the decade which wasn’t a bad achievement, and the cup twice. But just the two titles the decade after, in the 2000/01 and 2002/03 season, 2003 proving to be their last Championship. Apart from a Cup win in 2013 , which ended a ten year trophy drought, the club has gone through a mostly barren period with little to show in many recent years of football.

The club play in blue and white, the city colours and, since September 2007, they have played all of their home matches in the Letzigrund stadium which is also the regular home ground of FC Zürich. From 1929 to 2007, Grasshoppers used to play in the Hardturm stadium, before it became surplus to requirements, with a new proposed stadium Stadion Zürich planned on the ashes of the old ground, but as of yet the project has been stalled (2021 the newest date of completion!), making Grasshoppers essentially homeless and ground sharing with their city rivals, not an ideal situation to be in for the club.  

Zürich, Swiss football away daysThe Letzigrund stadium is some stadium though, wide and expansive, at night with the floodlights on it is a sight to see. An athletics stadium first and foremost but owned by the city of Zurich (buying it off FC Zurich who were in debt at the time), with the popular IAAF Diamond League taking place here every year, it also has held some pretty big music concerts down through the years (both the old and updated version of the stadium) from U2, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Rihanna, Beyoncé, the Rolling Stones right up to today with Ed Sheeran playing booked to play this summer 2018. The current capacity is 25,000, for football events, 30,000, for athletics and 50,000, for concerts

Great managers that have managed the club include Ottmar Hitzfeld (as we have seen), ex England boss Roy Hodgson, managerial journeyman Leo BeenhakkerChristian Gross where his two Swiss titles got him his big move to Spurs, up to the present man in charge Murat Yakin.

To the game

Grasshopper 2 – 0 Lausanne Sport

04.11.2017  • Stadion Letzigrund, Zürich

J. Suárez 68′
M. Basic (Pen) 90’+3

Attendance: 5100

Even though the first half was nil nil, you definitely had the sense that Grasshoppers would win this game, since they made virtually all of the play, had a few chances and were much better on the ball. Lausanne were really not up to much and seemed to be at a lower level of class. 

Zürich, Swiss football away daysThat goal did eventually come, in the 68th minute when J. Suárez scored a nice goal, scoring from a loose ball just outside the box slotting it home with the goalkeeper no chance. A very well taken goal. By this stage Grasshoppers were piling on the pressure, and they got a second when M. Basic scored from a penalty after Pusic was taken down in the box. 

Grasshopper well deserved the win, as they played nice football and were always in control of the game. Their wingers, both sides, were causing all sorts of damage to the Lausanne defence who at times looked clueless. Nice game to watch, good atmosphere from the Grasshopper fans as well. 

Enjoyed my first time seeing Grasshoppers, and the Letzigrund is some stadium. Even though it has an athletics track around the pitch it still is a good place to watch football, as most seats are elevated and you can get a decent view of the pitch.  It was nowhere full, not even close, but then the Swiss football league is like that, but the Grasshopper fans that were there gave a good effort and were chanting throughout the game creating a decent atmosphere.  Beer and burger was good and I was happy with my time in the Letzigrund 

Goal of the game here.

Overall

Two games of football, a good few beers, some burgers, and a nice walk around the city at night, yeah I enjoyed my day out in Zurich. It isnt a bad old spot.

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Beer drinker and all round annoyance. Likes drinking, football, cricket and having a good time.

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